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Is there a boatbuilder on board ?

lundi 11 mars 2002Information Volvo Ocean Race

For illbruck that was the six million dollar question. Luckily Tony Kolb, sailmaker and boatbuilder will have been able to come to the rescue. Unluckily for him, both skills were required as not long after their collision with SEB, the Code Zero was pulled out of the water in bits, also requiring substantial attention.

One metre forward from the transom, illbruck has a deep fist size hole cut into the deck edge by SEB‚s bow, exposing the yellow Kevlar fibre which is used in the construction of the V.O.60‚s. As illbruck moved forward at around eight knots of boat speed, SEB’s bow became entangled in illbruck’s lifelines and tore off the two stanchions that form the pushpit. The force of the collision has loosened the base of the forward stanchion that doubles as a padeye for the fastening of the spinnaker sheet block. The pushpit was completely destroyed before SEB’s bow cleared illbruck.

So the first job for Tony Kolb was to co-ordinate the urgent repairs to the deck gear still needed to sail the boat and to assess the hull damage and make them watertight in order to prevent further damage. Once a hole has been made, further delamination may have already occurred in the area, following the impact and it is essential for the crew of illbruck that this damage is controlled until the boat reaches Miami at the end of this leg. At this stage it will be very difficult for the crew to assess the full extent of the damage, which may not be apparent until the boat reaches Miami. The materials to work with need to be kept dry at all costs, and the Kevlar in the hull cannot easily be cut and can prove extremely difficult to work with.

Repairs can be carried out to the hole and scratches in the hull while the boat is racing, but they will be remedial, not structural and could be liable to further failure. It is also made more difficult with the crew weight on the wrong side of the boat ; three men to leeward, rather than on the windward side will not help keep the boat’s speed to the maximum.

In order to complete the job efficiently, it would require full boatyard back up with electrical power tools and a heat curing facility. All illbruck can do now on the water is to minimise the effect of the damage. The load for the spinnaker sheet block will need to be distributed over a structurally sound area, as the area where the padeye for the block was weakened considerably through the collision. This could be done with webbing around the quarter itself, with further strop support to the transom and then to hang the block off this. The crew will then need to check this temporary system regularly for chafe, given the considerable loadings that the Code Zero and the spinnaker put on this area of the hull.

illbruck can only hope to prevent water ingress and any additional damage from the lamination repair from on board ; if the area is already damp or wet then this will prove extremely difficult, as it is essential that the entire section is completely dry for the repair work to remain effective.

Not long after the collision, illbruck suffered further gear failure, when the strop to her Code Zero halyard parted. The sail fell down into the water and then needed repairing before further use. Unfortunately this meant that once again illbruck was down on boat speed while the onboard sailmaking team took a couple of hours to repair the sail.

Meanwhile, News Corp has extended her lead on the fleet, sailing in less current along the coast and djuice has moved up to second place with ASSA ABLOY hot on her heels. Amer Sports Too is fighting to keep SEB in last position.

Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 3, 0956 GMT

PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG TFHR DTL DTL-C ETA PO
- 1 NEWS 19 48.20S 039 13.20W 04171 022 09.3 195 0 +0 27 MAR 02 27
- 2 DJCE 20 25.32S 038 34.16W 04194 021 09.5 190 23 -2 27 MAR 02 24
- 3 AART 20 25.64S 038 34.92W 04195 020 09.7 189 24 -1 27 MAR 02 26
- 4 TYCO 20 30.04S 038 25.20W 04197 026 09.0 190 26 +3 27 MAR 02 23
- 5 AONE 20 27.96S 038 35.28W 04197 021 09.5 186 26 -1 27 MAR 02 26
- 6 ILBK 20 27.96S 038 35.88W 04197 021 09.7 190 26 +0 27 MAR 02 32
- 7 ATOO 20 30.24S 038 39.32W 04201 020 09.4 184 30 +0 27 MAR 02 9
- 8 TSEB 20 29.08S 038 43.64W 04201 018 09.4 182 30 +0 27 MAR 02 13

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